• Tomasz Tomaszewski

    Sugar Towns

  • Alejandro Chaskielberg

    Sugar Heritage

  • Carl De Keyzer

    Sugar Illustrated

  • James Whitlow Delano

    Looking back without Nostalgia

  • Francesco Zizola

    Bitter Harvest

  • Ed Kashi

    The Emerald Desert

The Sweet and Sour Story of Sugar - The Exhibition

Sugar in a globalized world

From the jungle along the Suriname River to the sugar towns of Indonesia, from the Green Desert of Brazil to Dutch sugar refineries; The Sweet and Sour Story of Sugar tells the comprehensive story of sugar. Over the centuries the production of sugar spread around the world, helping shape the political, economic, demographic and cultural landscape, and contributed to the way in which the world does business. That influence is still to be felt in the 21st century. Moreover, today sugar is becoming ever more important at the household level. At the beginning of the 20th century the average person consumed 5 kilos of sugar per year; now that is 35 kilos. 85% of that is processed in daily staples such as bread, fruit juice, meat, cigarettes, sauces, breakfast cereals and microwave meals.

Commissioned by Noorderlicht, six world-famous photographers travelled to The Netherlands, Suriname, Brazil and Indonesia, four countries linked together by a history of sugar and colonization. They mapped out the past, present and future of the sugar industry with work that touches on subjects including migration, slavery, changing patterns of consumption, energy policies, working conditions, the environment and trade. Their photos, supplemented by historical images, were the basis for the open source programme. In workshops in Indonesia, Suriname and Brazil successively, art institutions were given a free hand to assemble their own exhibitions with the photos, adding work and materials of their own to them, so as to tell their own, locally embedded version of the global story. After each presentation the new material was added to the whole and made available for the following presentation in the next country. During the final presentation in Groningen, Noorderlicht is showing the unique results of this open source approach, in which the concept of ‘globalization’ becomes physically tangible.

All about this project here


James Whitlow Delano (Japan/United States)
- Looking back without Nostalgia (Suriname)
- Looking back without Nostalgia (The Netherlands)

Alejandro Chaskielberg (Argentina)
- Bittersweet Suriname (Suriname)
- Sugar Heritage (The Netherlands)

Ed Kashi (United States)
- The Emerald Desert (Brazil)
- Manufacturing Sweets (The Netherlands)

Francesco Zizola (Italy)
- Bitter Harvest (Brazil)
- The Last Beet of Sweetness (The Netherlands)

Carl De Keyzer (Belgium)
- Sugar Illustrated (Indonesia)
- Guided by Sugar (Belgium)

Tomasz Tomaszewski (Poland)
- Sugar Towns (Indonesia)
- Sugar Town (Netherlands)


This project is made possible by grants of
Arts Collaboratory (a programme by Mondriaan Fund, Hivos and
Stichting DOEN)
the Dutch embassies in Indonesia, Suriname and Brazil with the
support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands
the Province of Groningen
Suiker Unie Vierverlaten